AF Surgeon General visits SOCMID, UAB Hospital

  • Published
  • By Capt Savannah Stephens
  • 24th Special Operations Wing

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Miller, Air Force Surgeon General, visited the Special Operations Center for Medical Integration and Development at the University of Alabama – Birmingham Hospital to learn more about their partnership with Air Force Special Operations Command on July 20.

“Growing these types of partnerships and making them right is important,” said Miller. “Our military will be better because of partnerships like these and the invaluable experience our service members are getting.”

The partnership with UAB began in 2006 with pararescue specialists and special operations independent duty medical technicians rotating through for clinical training. In 2020, the program evolved into SOCMID and has hosted over 125 students since its inception.

The 24th Special Operations Wing established SOCMID to hone pararescue specialists’ and SOIDMTs’ trauma skills and create a path to certification through the UAB Hospital partnership. Between various hands-on labs, virtual reality trainers, and blended learning environments, SOCMID prepares students for the increasing medical complexity in strategic competition. 

“The embedded military medical professionals within the UAB Hospital are a win-win for both our civilian hospital and the military,” said Dr. Daniel Cox, chief, Trauma Service, and individual mobilization augmentee to the Air Force Special Operations Command Surgeon General. “These students have the opportunity to practice to their full deployed scope of responsibility in the third largest academic medical system in the country … 25 trauma patients on an average Saturday night is no easy feat.”

In 2010, 24th Special Operations Wing’s Special Operations Surgical Teams, began embedding in the hospital for clinical currency. There are currently 22 embedded members with five more arriving later this summer.  Embedded team members typically stay for 4 years, but some may move the SOST detachment in Las Vegas or to the wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

“When you need someone to provide high-level care, you have to be getting high-level practice,” said Cox. “The only way to be the best is by doing the grind day-to-day and taking care of the sickest patients.”

The UAB hospital fully integrates the military medical professionals into the clinical partnership allowing them to hold independent call and clinical weeks, while offering the military medics the flexibility to deploy at a moment’s notice to fulfill worldwide commitments.

While the military members operate independently from the other UAB staff, they get scheduled for week-long rotations just like the civilian staff. If they have to leave for a short-notice tasking, the hospital is staffed to support that without being negatively affected.

“The breadth and depth of the military experience here is vital for our neighbors, communities, and surrounding states,” said Brenda Carlisle, UAB Hospital Chief Executive Officer. “The military surgical experience is critically important to the outcome of our trauma patients here at UAB. Our hospital is better for your partnership, and I thank you all for what you’re doing every single day.”

“As long as we’re continuing to add value to our civilian counterparts, this partnership makes all the sense in the world to me,” said Miller.

The visit concluded with a field training exercise that culminates SOCMID’s 112-hour Advanced Medical and Trauma Skills Sustainment Recertification Course, and a briefing from the Air Force Research Laboratory on Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit, the multi-patient, point-of-injury casualty tool that assists operators and improves care.